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NPPC: McDonald's sow stall move is an opportunity

The US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has called the decision by McDonald's to study its suppliers' use of individual sow housing, 'an opportunity for the pork industry'.

The NPPC said that it “stands ready to offer its assistance to McDonald’s as it assesses sow housing.”
In a press release, the council said, “Farmers constantly are evolving and improving their operations to adapt to market conditions. A generation ago, pork demand was sagging because the product didn’t meet consumer demands. Farmers changed their practices. Today’s pork is leaner and more nutritious than ever, and today’s farmer is committed to responsible production.”
“Farmers and animal care experts know that various types of housing systems can provide for the well-being of pigs. After an extensive review of scientific literature, the American Veterinary Medical Association determined that both individual sow housing and group housing can provide for the well-being of sows.”
“Perhaps most importantly, today’s announcement reflects the best process for meeting evolving consumer demands – through the market, not through government mandates. Pork industry customers have expressed a desire to see changes in how pigs are raised. Farmers are responding and modifying their practices accordingly. That process is effective, it is efficient and doesn’t require an act of Congress.”
Free market
The council appears to be hesitant to express a preference for a certain method to keep sows – unlike in the European Union, where legislators made group housing for gestating sows mandatory as from January 2013.
The NPPC, however, emphasises the importance of freedom, saying: “The pork industry supports a free market; it opposes legislative mandates on farmers pushed by special interest groups. Farmers are some of the most innovative and resourceful people in our country. They will continue to meet the ever-changing needs of customers and provide consumers with safe, nutritious and affordable food produced responsibly.”
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Editor PigProgress


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    Kenneth J. Sokolowski

    I'm all for group housing,but what doe's McDonald's have to do with the pig industry.

    Please explain to me what McDonald's has to do with the pig business. I believe in open pens for sows myself, but lets keep it up to the farmers and agg. professionals o'k.

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    Vincent ter Beek, editor Pig Progress

    McDonald's uses pork for the preparation of its meals - and when a big player like this restaurant chain decides to alter its buying procedure, it has both a direct and an indirect influence on pig production in the US. Direct, as producers will have to change their practice; and indirect as it may set other wheels in motion again with regard to sow stalls in the States. I'm interested to hear why you feel this news is not relevant to the pig business.

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    If the "consumer" wants, that we paint our pig purple in future, we probably do that too!?

    We should communicate with the retailer at least, that we only implement new conditions in practice if they are scientifically based, they are economically and they do not impair the competitiveness of our farms

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    Vincent ter Beek, editor Pig Progress

    In my view, more than consumers, it's NGOs who are responsible for the introduction of group housing legislation in the EU.

    If science is approached for its opinion we need clearly state what it is that you'd like to hear. Novel systems that are praised for being more animal friendly turn out to have 'not worse' production figures than conventional systems. Would that mean a reason for you to convert?

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